Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Bounty of Bucharest

Last weekend Sasha, Kenny, and I took a trip to Bucharest.  Some of our friends there knew about our ministry to refugees and collected blankets and clothes to send back with us.  We filled the back of our station wagon to capacity.  We had to leave four large bags of clothes behind in order to make room for Sasha in the back seat.   Our Romanian brothers and sisters showed great love for our refugee friends through their gifts.

Our involvement in ministry to the refugees has not been popular.  There have been hard feelings between our Bulgarian friends and our displaced friends.  One reason is that the refugees are seen as sapping up Bulgarian tax money.  There is a view that the refugees are mooching off the government.  While there certainly are people in the world who unfairly take advantage of government programs, I can say with certainty that the vast majority of the refugees are not among such a group.  If anyone thinks otherwise, I challenge them to live like a refugee for a month.

Whatever the reasons for the tensions, I want to be clear.  The refugees coming to Bulgaria need help.  As a child of God, I have a responsibility to help those in need.  Jesus gave His life to welcome me into heaven despite the fact that I am a wretched sinner who deserves nothing from God.  How can we as Christians not, in turn, welcome those in need?  Let me be clear on this point.  We do what we do for the refugees because of what the love of Jesus has done in us.

I should not be surprised that our ministry and others like it have been met with mixed reviews.  This was promised by Jesus:

“A servant is not greater than his master.  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.  If they obeyed my teaching they will obey yours also.”  John 15:20

He also told us how to handle such situations:

“Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man.”  Luke 6:22

And conversely:

“Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.”  Luke 6:26

We and our ministry partners all agree.  We will not back down.  We are going to continue to love our refugee friends as long as they are in our lives.

Please keep them in your prayers.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Refugee Situation

Over the past three months, we have been involved in refugee ministry.  Thousands of refugees from Syria have come to Bulgaria to escape the war in their home country.  Hundreds of them, along with refugees from several other countries, are in the refugee center in Sofia.

We, along with several partnering ministries, host a fellowship time once a week at a local church.  We provide a warm safe place, a meal, English practice, and a Bible study.  Every week more and more refugees come to our gathering.

This last week, we started hearing reports of violence at the refugee camp.  It really hit home when one of the women who attends our Bible study was attacked from behind.  Please pray for peace and protection for our refugee friends.